As Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn is about to be released (and some of us are already immersed into its early release), we would like to reflect back on the massively multiplayer online role-playing games that set the standard and still weigh in at the top spots in our happily addicted hearts. The 10 Best MMORPGs Ever are some of gaming history's most addictive titles ever created. Most of us have at least encountered that one person who was engaged into an MMORPG and wouldn't go outside, even when we beckoned them to do so (some of us are still that very person). The MMORPG community has unfortunately caught a bad rap due to its history of addictions and career-ruining (whether scholastic or employment), habits. Nevertheless, there are reasons why these titles are so addictive, mainly because they provide a unique sense of fun and social interaction we normally can't find anywhere else. So binge a few Red Bulls, warm up a few Hot Pockets, and say goodbye to your friends as we party up for the 10 Best MMORPGs Ever.
Pulling the mobs first in our list of the 10 Best MMORPGs Ever is Anarchy Online. Brought to the States by Funcom, a group of developers from Norway, Anarchy Online has been an immensely popular MMORPG for the past 12 years. Players had to choose one of four alien breeds in order to create their character. Each species-type corresponds to an archetype of RPG classes (Nanomage is a caster, Opifex acts as a rogue, etc.). Many of Anarchy Online's mechanics were implemented in Funcom's Age of Conan, In turn, recent graphical overhauls of Anarchy Online have been done using the Conan engine.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic provided a massively multiplayer online experience that was up to par with the level of quality we commonly associate from both Bioware and Star Wars. With amazing music, stellar voice acting and beautiful worlds, all built atop Knights of the Old Republic's fantastic story, SWTOR seemed to have it all... until we started playing through its thousands of, "kill X creatures and report back" quests. SWTOR was a modern day, polished version of the yesteryear of MMORPGs. Unfortunately, it didn't have enough of the replayability or end-game content to keep MMORPG vets intrigued. Within nearly its first year, its subscriptions plummeted and The Old Republic turned to the free-to-play format. But any game featuring the long-awaited return of both HK-47 and Darth Revan deserves our recognition.
Dark Age of Camelot
Dark Age of Camelot started development in 1999, was released in 2001, and has captivated lore fanatics ever since. Camelot allows players to choose one of three realms, which each realm being made up of Arthurian, Celtic or Norse legends. Mythic Entertainment saved a lot of money in paying for the rights of these legends since they have all been public domain for a very long time. Dark Age of Camelot takes place after the death of King Arthur, but many of the threats to his kingdom were still around (we're looking at you, Morgan le Faye!). Each realm had its own roster of playable races (even though the races were all relatively similar), and paralleled each other in terms of story.
Fighting for Tyria's glory without the necessity of subscription fees was one of the main things Guild Wars had going for it. Despite its lack of subscription fees, it was quite the enjoyable MMORPG. Guild Wars furthered itself from its contemporaries by focusing more on the player vs. player aspect of MMORPGs. ArenaNet was comprised of a few senior members of Blizzard Entertainment, who left right around the time World of Warcraft was being developed. So ArenaNet took it upon themselves to try and make an MMORPG experience that was vastly different from World of Warcraft. While ArenaNet may not have toppled Blizzard, they still produced one of the best MMORPGs of all time.
With vastly recognized names like Star Wars: Galaxies, The Old Republic, and Star Trek Online available, it was much more difficult for lesser known, science fiction-based MMORPGs to warrant success, but Eve Online broke the mold. In particular, Eve Online focuses on space ship gameplay. But you don't control your ship like Rogue Squadron or Starfox. Instead, you issue commands which your flight computer attempts to do for you. While this might seem simple, it makes you feel like the actual captain of a ship, where the orders you give out truly mean the difference.
Final Fantasy 11
Recently announced as the most profitable game in Square Enix history, Final Fantasy 11 brought many changes to the genre that were surprises in both the vein of MMORPGs and Final Fantasy titles. As expected, enemies were not found via random encounter, but would actually roam the zones they were in. Instead of having multiple characters on an account so that the player could try out all the classes, players were able to have one character switch classes whenever they would like (as long as they unlocked the job/class first). An interesting concept is its support job system, where players had to choose a second job to get skills from, which would add onto their character at half the level their main class was. For example, if you were a level 50 Black Mage, you could also have the skills and spells of a level 25 White Mage (provided that you leveled up your White Mage high enough), so that you could do support from afar. This led to many interesting combinations, and made it feel that no two characters were actually the same in FF11. The numerous changes FF11 brought to the table are just a few of the reasons why FF11 makes our list of the 10 Best MMORPGs Ever.
The Lord of the Rings Online
We have all experienced it at least once while watching The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time... that inner thought that beckoned to the gamer in all of us screaming, "this should be an RPG". But the dire truth is that The Lord of the Rings series' influence can be seen all over the entire genre since its inception. Unfortunately, no game has ever fully satiated this feeling until Turbine Inc. decided that The Lord of the Rings should not only be an RPG, but an MMORPG. With tons of extended lore to explore, The Lord of the Rings Online surprised us all by going in-depth in expanding on such an massive story. It could have easily been a mediocre title, attempting to milk off of its famous name alone, but its mechanics and graphics reminded us why we all love going to Middle-Earth. Furthermore, once The Lord of the Rings Online went free-to-play, it boomed in popularity and is easily, one of the greatest F2P MMORPGs ever made.
Jagex Games Studio
Speaking of F2P MMORPGs, Runescape reigns supreme simply due to its staggering number of players. Featuring a rock, paper, scissors battle system between melee, ranged and magic attacks, RuneScape is highly addictive, and allows players to come and go as they please between the 3 attack types. For a game that was written in Java, RuneScape's browser-based accessibility means that anyone can start playing it at any time, as long as they have a decent internet connection. On the level, RuneScape offers a lot more gameplay variety than we would normally expect from an F2P browser MMORPG, which is why it has such an immense following.
Sony Online Entertainment
EverQuest has been living large and setting standards for the genre since 1999. When you think about how the internet was 14 years ago, and the concepts EverQuest introduced, it makes perfect sense that it should weigh in at second place on our list. EverQuest built on the concepts brought on by Dungeons & Dragons, text-based games, RPG archetypes, and revolutionary PC multiplayer connectivity. Having 400 zones, 19 expansions (Call of the Forsaken in September!), and 11 offshoot titles, calling EverQuest a massively multiplayer online title is an understatement. EverQuest is officially banned in the country of Brazil and is the main reason why Online Gamers Anonymous was founded. If it weren't for Ultima Online, Asheron's Call (which each would have probably weighed in at the 11th and 12th spots on this list), and EverQuest, the MMORPG genre simply would have never existed.
World of Warcraft
Going from Evercrack to Warcrack, WoW tops our list of the 10 Best MMORPGs Ever, and for just reasons. Blizzard has been redefining the genre since WoW was first released in beta form in late 2003. Even though its numbers have been on the decline over the past few years, WoW still holds the record for the highest number of paid subscriptions. It perfected the class-based role system established by numerous other MMORPGs, but ran with the concept. With every single weekly patch, Blizzard finely tunes the details of each class in order to promote a sense of balance between them all on both the player vs. player and player vs. enemy scales. There are raids with bosses that force the players into learning and perfecting the game's mechanics, massive PVP systems where 40 players can engage another 40 with different types of objectives, and an excellent lore built upon the stories set by Warcraft 1-3. Blizzard has tried to intertwine FUN into the MMORPG at every single chance, and the people addicted to WoW are proof of this. The addition of flying mounts redefined player interaction with the world, as they were able to fly anywhere they pleased. From then on, Azeroth not only had to be immensely engaging on the ground, but in the skies as well. Any MMORPG that uses an award-winning episode of South Park as a hilarious advertisement of its product deserves special recognition. We could go on and on about the World of Warcraft, but we'll summarize it all by saying, "FOR THE HORDE!"
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